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No Passing Fancy

Duke has some issues right now, but efficient passing is not one of them.

Champions Classic: Duke v Michigan State
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 14: Tyrese Proctor #5 of the Duke Blue Devils passes the ball off during the game against the Michigan State Spartans in the Champions Classic at the United Center on November 14, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

We know it’s too early to reach conclusions, the games not yet totaling double figures for each ACC team. Still, if looked at with an open mind, stats nevertheless tell much about a player or team, revealing trends, strengths and weaknesses.

So it was as December dawned.

Last year Duke, despite plenty of unseasoned players, did an admirable job of sharing the ball amongst its players. Only Virginia and Virginia Tech were more proficient at distributing assists. Other than Miami, no ACC club of 5 invited to compete in the NCAAs advanced farther than the Blue Devils. (Admittedly, only as far as the second round.)

But Jon Scheyer’s first Duke squad was less proficient at minimizing turnovers than it was at producing scoring passes. His Devils wound up 10th in the conference in average of assists to turnovers (1.22 to 1). Cautious Virginia led with a 1.84 average.

This season prudence holds sway in Duke ballhandling. Through 7 games the Blue Devils paced ACC teams with 1.84 assists per turnover, exactly matching UVa’s proficiency in 2023. Last year the Devils’ A:TO ranked 10th among 15 ACC squads.

Sophomore Tyrese Proctor is currently leading all league players with 4.75 assists for every ballhandling mishap, more than an assist per game better than runnerup Joe Girard lll, a fifth-year senior who decamped this year to Clemson. Proctor missed most of a loss to Georgia Tech with an ankle injury incurred in the game’s second minute.

In his inaugural ACC effort last season, Proctor, an Australian native who immediately showed admirable ballhandling control, ranked eighth in the league with 2.05 assists per turnover, which paced Duke.

ACC Players With Top Ratios Of Assists To Turnovers
(Through Games Of Dec.1, 2023)
Player, School A:TO Games
Tyrese Proctor, D 4.75:1 7
Joe Girard III, C 3:67:1 6
Reese Beekman, V 3.64:1 7
Elliot Cadeau, NC 3.22:1 7
Carlton Carrington, UP 3.15:1 7
Michael O'Connell, NS 2.86:1 6
Jaeden Zachery, BC 2.83:1 5
Kyle Sturdivant, GT 2.43:1 7
Jalen Worley, FS 2.33:1 6